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Old Feb 24, 2008, 04:48 PM
SuperCub Crash Test Pilot
clipper453's Avatar
Laveen, AZ
Joined Sep 2007
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South Mountain Park in Phoenix (until I was asked to leave)

It was a gorgeous day in Phoenix yesterday, and I decided to take my plane to South Mountain Park to get some aerial photos and video. The mountain is unusually green right now because of all the recent rain we've had, and I knew it would make for some nice photos.

Unfortunately, just as I was setting up for my 2nd flight, the park ranger came over and said that I couldn't fly the plane in the park. I politely asked him if there were a list of park rules, other than the one that is handed out when you enter the park (which states nothing referring to RC planes), and he could not provide one. I explained to him that the plane I was flying was classified as a "park flyer" (under 2 lbs, flies under 60 mph, and is electric powered), and that as long as I was flying in a safe manner, that it was perfectly legal to do so.

I also explained that I was simply trying to get some aerial photos and video of the beautiful scenery, and he sympathized with me, so he radioed his supervisor to ask for more guidance. Unfortunately, the supervisor stood firm and forbid me from flying. The park ranger and I had a nice exchange, and I educated him on the AMA Park Flyer program. I also gave him the address to my Vimeo page so that he could see my other photos and videos. In the end, he apologized and gave me a free calendar. He also suggested that I contact the city parks department and see if I could get a permit to fly my plane within the city parks so that I don't ever have the same issue again.

So what I'm wondering from the AP / Park Flyer community is, have any of you had similar experiences of being forbidden from flying in a park? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome? What would you have done differently if you were in my situation?

In any case, I was able to get some pics from the first flight, which you can see attached below. I'll follow up with a reply to this post with a video montage that I made.

Thanks,
Matt Clipper
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 04:50 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
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Is it a national park? If so RC is a No-no.....
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 04:52 PM
SuperCub Crash Test Pilot
clipper453's Avatar
Laveen, AZ
Joined Sep 2007
417 Posts
Below is a link to the video montage I put together from various photos of the above-mentioned flight. In order to get the full effect, it's best to follow the link to the Vimeo page, and view the video there in full-screen.

Saturday in South Mountain Park (HD 720p) (3 min 53 sec)
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 04:53 PM
SuperCub Crash Test Pilot
clipper453's Avatar
Laveen, AZ
Joined Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pda4you
Is it a national park? If so RC is a No-no.....
No, it's a Phoenix city park.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 05:01 PM
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You have park rangers for city parks?

Usually against city regs too - sadly....
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 05:07 PM
SuperCub Crash Test Pilot
clipper453's Avatar
Laveen, AZ
Joined Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pda4you
You have park rangers for city parks?

Usually against city regs too - sadly....
They have full-time park rangers for the "large" city parks out here. And according to Wikipedia, South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Mountain_Park

I've been trying to check the city, county, and state regulations, and I have been unsuccessful in finding anything regulating the use of RC planes. (If someone out there is familiar with Phoenix / Arizona laws regarding this, please let me know.)
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 05:28 PM
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Phoenix
Joined Mar 2003
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I just returned from hiking So Mtn Park and it was packed. I have flown from there in the past - from the end of the dirt road starting at the Guad Rd Ramada.

Things to do differently:

Don't go when it is busy. Pick a weekday, and an off-hour.
Don't fly from the parking lot. Go some distance down the trail.
Use one of the less-travelled access points like 24th Street.
Keep the plane at altitude, and make very gentle movements.
Most people don't even see the plane when it is high, but they do when it lands.
Plan your flight well - fly once and then go to another location.
When asked to leave, simply say "Yes, sir" and demonstrate
your best, controlled, dead-stick landing (no noise - not even a whirrrr).

I would NOT seek official permission, as it raises awareness
of you. I would not argue regulations - as this will get some
passed. As it is, you are at the discretion of each individual
ranger.

Edit: I just looked at your slide show - and it wasn't busy in that lot!
Not sure where that is, but I still think you'll be fine on an off-day
& a less-travelled trailhead.

Tom
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 05:35 PM
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I totally agree with what Tom has stated. When asked to leave the best thing you can do is just that. Seeking permission from official sources will almost always mean a no, if for no other reason than cya. Staying out of sight and mind as well as off hrs are the best and most stealth way to do things. In and out and gone. Look at the bright side you already have some great pics and videos of the park.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 05:41 PM
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Mesa, AZ
Joined Aug 2004
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We've been dealing with Mesa Parks for quite a while now, trying to get a place to fly. They've been difficult at best. The cities around here are real hit-or-miss; Gilbert doesn't have any restrictions in their parks, for example.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 06:23 PM
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Depending on how one defines a vehicle, one could argue that remotely controlled vehicles are technically banned from all Phoenix parks (section 24-51).

http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/CITYCODE/ch024.html

Vas
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Round Rock, Texas
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Matt, from your description of events it sounds like you handled the situation perfectly.

You avoided being adversarial in seeking documentation as confirmation of the matter. You shared information in a positive manner by mentioning the Park Flyer Program. As more and more local governments are made aware of it we can expect to see ourselves included in activities and planning, provided we behave responsibly.

The best thing to do is to look to follow up with the higher echelons, sharing information that the AMA provides on the Park Flyer Program. AMA hopefully will commit to backing park flyer members with letters, e-mails and even phone calls to help matters along.

I can't see that you did anything but leave that particular ranger with a positive impression of yourself. By so doing you helped make everyone in the hobby look good, too.

BobbyG
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 07:51 PM
by Alary Design
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Mesa, AZ
Joined May 2002
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cool. in the shot looking north east you can see the flour mill on Mill Ave. only a few pixels in size but the distinctive white shape is recognizable!
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 08:19 PM
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I agree with Bobbygee. In the situation, it does sound like you left a very positive impression.

Bsoder - Gilbert DOES have restrictions. You are supposed to register with the Park Dept before flying in any Gilbert Park. I have the addr if you need it. Most of the rangers know about this regulation.

Tom
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 11:37 PM
SuperCub Crash Test Pilot
clipper453's Avatar
Laveen, AZ
Joined Sep 2007
417 Posts
Thanks for the input, everyone.

Tom... I totally agree with your suggestions. I've flown there several times in the past, and they've all been on weekdays after work. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity this weekend to get some shots of the park before the green turned to brown. And yes, that parking lot was COMPLETELY empty. My car was the only one in it. If you make an immediate left after the first ranger's station, you will come to that lot.

Vas... I agree that the definition of "vehicle" could be the catch. However, for the purposes of the city code, I believe a "vehicle" refers to something that is motorized and is designed to carry people, as most of the references in that particular city code refer to things people aren't allowed to do while in a vehicle.

Dennis... If you want, I can send you the full 7 megapixel shot looking northeast. Just PM me your email address.

Again, thanks to all for your input. It's just frustrating when you take all the precautions you can, and you still get shot down for no good reason. I'll keep looking for more isolated places to fly in the future.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old Feb 25, 2008, 09:11 PM
WHOHH..You See That??
qualcity's Avatar
Aurora, Colorado
Joined Jan 2005
1,761 Posts
Nice South Mountain Picts.

Here is a pano from 5 shots I took about 2 years ago looking West across the range. I flew from the golf course which was the back yard of my In-Laws house.
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